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Richard is in prison in the USA. His life was so bad that he thought God would never forgive him. But God will always forgive anyone who is truly sorry.

My father lived on the streets of our city. He sold illegal drugs, had wrong sex and wasted his money. He was a violent man and had different weapons which he used many times to harm other people.

A life of crime

My mother was only 16 and my father 19 when I was born. My father was in prison at the time and I was brought up by my father’s mother. As a child, I saw my father hitting my grandmother many times. Life for me could not have been worse. When I grew up, I became just like my father. I thought it was the only way to live. At the age of 21, I had a bad fight with him. He was in a coma for two days before he died. I did not mean to kill him – he attacked me first. I was arrested, but allowed to go free – maybe because they knew how bad my father was. I went back to my bad life. By now all my family hated me because of what I did to my father. At that time I did not care about how much pain I had caused them. I had many feelings of guilt for killing my father, but it did not change me. My life became worse and worse. I took many illegal drugs which harmed my body and mind. I sold them to other people too, spoiling their lives just as I had spoiled my own life. To get money to buy drugs, I did many crimes. But these terrible things I was doing could not go on for ever. 24 years ago I was arrested again and this time, sent to prison. I will be here for the rest of my life. I know that I deserve the punishment. I have brought pain and sadness into many people’s lives, even to my own family.

In prison but free

 Eight years ago something wonderful happened to me. I began to realise that I had gone very, very wrong. I cried out to God and told him I was sorry for all my past wrong-doing. From that moment, he made me into a new person – even me - the worst of people. I know that he has forgiven me. I feel clean inside. I am still in prison, but my mind is free. All my life I was very far from God but now he is my friend and helper.

The Christians’ holy book, the Bible, says: “Let us tell God about our wrong ways. God can be trusted. He does what is right. He will forgive us for the wrong things we have done. He will make us clean from all that was wrong.” *

 That is just what has happened in my life.